Dairy Foods Lesson Plan for Elementary School

Instructor: Suzanne Rose

Suzanne has taught all levels PK-graduate school and has a PhD in Instructional Systems Design. She currently teachers literacy courses to preservice and inservice teachers.

This lesson plan will provide teachers with a variety of dairy-related activities for elementary students, including cheese tasting, milk tasting, reading nutrition labels, and making butter.

Learning Objectives

As a result of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • identify dairy foods
  • define the term 'dairy'
  • read and compare nutrition labels for a variety of dairy products
  • discuss qualities of dairy products and make statements regarding preferences


75 minutes

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.7

Interpret information presented visually, orally, or quantitatively (e.g., in charts, graphs, diagrams, time lines, animations, or interactive elements on Web pages) and explain how the information contributes to an understanding of the text in which it appears.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.4.1.c

Pose and respond to specific questions to clarify or follow up on information, and make comments that contribute to the discussion and link to the remarks of others.

Materials Needed

  • Copy of the poem, 'Moo-Cow-Moo' by Edmund Vance Cooke (available online)
  • Materials for centers (see center directions below for a list of materials for each center)


  • Introduce the lesson by displaying on a chart and reading aloud the poem, 'Moo-Cow-Moo' by Edmund Vance Cooke. Discuss the information that the poem gives them about cows. For example,
    • How does the cow look?
    • What does the cow give in water pails?
    • What are the handles?
    • What is coming out of the handles?
  • Use the questions to lead into a discussion of milk.
  • Ask students if they know what the word 'dairy' means.
  • After some discussion, explain that dairy means 'made from milk' or it can be a place where milk is processed and made into other products.
  • Ask students to brainstorm all the dairy products they can think of.
    • (Note: The US government does not count butter, cream and cream cheese toward the daily requirement because those products contain little or no calcium.)
  • Now, ask students how many cups of dairy products they should eat/drink each day to be healthy.
  • After some discussion, tell them that children ages 9-18 years old should have at least 3 cups of dairy products per day.
    • One cup is equal to 1 cup of milk, yogurt or soymilk, 1 cup yogurt, 2 cups cottage cheese, 1 ½ cups ice-cream, 1 cup pudding made from milk, 1 ½ ounces of natural cheese or 2 ounces of processed cheese.
  • Ask if there are any remaining questions before moving on to the activities.


NOTE: Students with milk allergies or lactose intolerance will need to skip certain activities.

  • Divide the students into four groups.
  • Each group will spend about 15 minutes at each of these centers.
  • After each 15-minute interval, have the students move to the next center, and continue until all the students have completed each center.

Center #1: Cheese Tasting

Materials for this center: 1/2 slice of each of these cheeses, per student: white American, yellow American, provolone, Swiss; small paper plates and napkins; paper and pencils

  • Students should eat one cheese slice, then write a description of the taste of that cheese. Include words such as: creamy, smooth, buttery, rubbery, tangy, etc.
  • After finishing each type, students repeat the process of writing a description of that piece of cheese.
  • Students then write a paragraph describing their favorite of the cheeses, using the descriptive words they wrote down.

Center #2: Milk Comparison

Materials for this center: Small paper cups, such as bathroom paper cups (5 cups per child), trash can or bag for disposing of paper cups, milk comparison chart (1 per student), 1 quart each of: buttermilk, whole milk, 2% milk, skim milk, 1% milk in their original packages so the students can read the nutrition information for each one.

  • Students at this center will pour and drink small amounts of each of the different types of milk and compare them.
  • They should fill the small cup about ½ way full with the first type of milk, and drink it slowly. Then, students will fill out their rating of that type of milk on the milk comparison chart. The chart can also be revised to include color and vitamins, if desired.
  • Students repeat the process for all 5 types of milk, tasting and completing the chart for each one.


Center #3: Making Butter

Materials for this center: Little House in the Bog Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder (1 copy to read aloud from), 4 quart Mason jars or large mayonnaise jars with lids, 4 pints of heavy cream in a cooler with ice (keep very cold), saltines, 4 plastic knives, napkins and small paper plates

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